Everyone’s falling over themselves talking about the CRTC’s new rules for media ownership, saying it’s about time the regulatory commission did something.
The new rules basically come down to three limits:
- The same company can’t own a newspaper (daily, paid local paper), radio station and TV station in the same market
- The same company can’t acquire TV stations that would give it a 45% or more audience share in a market
- The same company cannot control all broadcast distribution systems (cable and satellite TV) in the same market
Enough exceptions have been made already that nobody is affected right now. These include:
- The CBC/Radio-Canada and other public broadcasters
- Companies who grow their audience market share to over 45% with existing properties
- The National Post and Globe and Mail, which are considered “national newspapers”
You can see the CRTC’s press release and a public notice outlining the well-thought-out rationale for the decisions they made and those they decided against.
Go nuts, Quebecor
A second, related decision which isn’t getting so much attention is a loosening of restrictions on news gathering. Previously, Quebecor was forced to separate news gathering divisions in its print and television properties. Reporters for TVA and the Journal de Montréal couldn’t so much as talk to each other.
The problem with that restriction is two-fold. First of all, other media like CanWest and CTVglobemedia had lesser restrictions which only required them to manage the news outlets separately. Second, the Internet has forced the CRTC to realize that the medium is irrelevant. Newspaper reporters are shooting video, and TV reporters are writing text. The lines between media are blurring.
So the CRTC has decided to harmonize its rules to the looser CTV/Canwest system, which restricts news management but not news gathering directly. Management of one outlet cannot be involved with managing the other. The reporters themselves, however, are unaffected.
This will come as welcome news to Quebecor, who can now
take frame grabs from TVA to fill Journal de Québec pages have more flexibility in its media management.
What about freelance journalist who use their own blogs to plug their stories? Better watch out:P
I say screw the CRTC, fire them all, burn their houses down and refund my taxes… Who am I kidding, I havn’t paid taxes in years… Hey, I am unilingual and can’t get a job in Quebec.
What also misses the point and kills discussion on issues such as local news gathering and local media job production is how cross ownership has minimized critical editorial examination of broadcasting and print journalism in Montreal, and its a crying shame.
Time was, diverse voices had diverse opinions. Now you have to go to page six or seven to find local news in the Gazette. Otherwise its reprints of stories from other Canwest newspapers. Global can layoff 70 people in Montreal, cancel its morning show and you won’t hear a peep about it from The Gazette in large part I suppose because everyone is afraid to tell the emperor he has no clothes. Astral owns three radio stations in Montreal. Corus owns six. Why is this allowed to happen? Because no one cares.
That’s true. There are a few reasons for that I think:
1. Everyone loves bad-mouthing the competition, not so much their allies
2. In general, journalists don’t think people care about the media scene as much as they do. That’s true, but it causes journalists to underestimate the public’s interest in media issues.
3. Even if the boss hasn’t said anything to you, you still feel a bit weird criticizing the Corporation.
It’s more psychological than anything else. But that doesn’t make it OK.